What is Fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is a chronic condition caused by excessive intake of fluorine compounds, marked by mottling of the teeth and, if severe, calcification of the ligaments.
It is a common disorder, characterized by hypomineralization of tooth enamel caused by ingestion of excessive fluoride during enamel formation.
Fluoride is good for teeth because it helps prevent tooth decay. However, applying and consuming too much fluoride while teeth are developing can cause dental fluorosis.
Fluorosis affects the tooth’s enamel. Milder cases cause barely noticeable white flecks on the teeth, whereas more severe cases can include heavy staining or even very visible pitting and pocking.
Children under eight years of age are the most susceptible to developing fluorosis because their developing permanent teeth are still under the gum line and dental fluorosis damaged teeth that haven’t erupted yet. Once teeth have erupted, children are no longer at risk. Due to the risk of fluorosis, children under the age of three should use just a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste and children three to six should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
How do teeth with Fluorosis appear?
It appears as a range of visual changes in enamel causing degrees of intrinsic tooth discolouration, and, in some cases, physical damage to the teeth. The severity of the condition is dependent on the dose, duration, and age of the individual during the exposure.
The “very mild” (and most common) form of fluorosis, is characterized by small, opaque, “paper white” areas scattered irregularly over the tooth, covering less than 25% of the tooth surface. In the “mild” form of the disease, these mottled patches can involve up to half of the surface area of the teeth. When fluorosis is moderate, all of the surfaces of the teeth are mottled and teeth may be ground down and brown stains frequently “disfigure” the teeth. Severe fluorosis is characterized by brown discoloration and discrete or confluent pitting; brown stains are widespread and teeth often present a corroded-looking appearance.
People with fluorosis are relatively resistant to dental caries (tooth decay caused by bacteria), although there may be cosmetic concern. In moderate to severe fluorosis, teeth are weakened and suffer permanent physical damage.
Management of Fluorosis
Dental fluorosis may or may not be of cosmetic concern. In some cases, there may be varying degrees of negative psychosocial effects. The treatment options are: